Communication sciences to offer new Biltmore Park speech clinic for people who stutter

Western Carolina University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders will begin offering a new specialized clinic for children and adults who stutter. The clinic will be located at WCU’s Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville, beginning in August on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Chagit Clark, an Asheville-based speech-language pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, will conduct the clinic. Much of Clark’s 10-plus years in the field has focused on helping individuals who stutter, both clinically and through research. Her studies have been published in various academic journals and presented at national and international conferences. She has been trained in an array of traditional as well as nontraditional therapeutic techniques, and has trained others in the field.

Chagit Clark

“The university is well-known for work in communicative disorders,” said Bill Ogletree, head of WCU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “WCU has long been a leader in speech services to individuals who stutter and their families,” he said. “David Shapiro’s work put us on the map over three decades ago. Stuttering can be such a challenge, and now adding Clark’s presence creates a tremendous opportunity for local individuals seeking therapy to address speech fluency disorders.”

Shapiro, recently retired as WCU’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and now a professor emeritus, is the author of “Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom” and a recognized figure in treating communicative disorders. He has received numerous awards and honors related to his work and research, including the 2016 Oliver Max Gardner Award, the highest honor the University of North Carolina System presents to faculty; the International Fluency Association Award of Distinction for Outstanding Clinician; and Honors of the Association by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and by the North Carolina Speech, Hearing and Language Association.

“I am thrilled to learn of the planned expansion of Western Carolina University’s Speech and Hearing Clinic services to the Biltmore Park instructional site,” Shapiro said. “As it has been the mission of WCU and our Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders to meet the needs of people from Western North Carolina and beyond, this location will be ideal to serve a larger population. My own work in stuttering intervention has brought people to WCU from the most diverse international locations. Greater proximity to the Asheville Regional Airport will be helpful. Chagit comes well recommended and is an excellent and experienced candidate to coordinate this project, particularly with people who stutter.”

Clark said she views stuttering as a complex disorder that typically affects many aspects of one’s life, effects of which often differ from one individual to another.

“Stuttering might even present itself differently within a person, from day to day,” Clark said. “Treatment must be tailored for each client. Doing so involves a careful balance of a variety of stuttering therapy techniques, depending on individual needs. I am excited to join WCU’s team of esteemed speech-language clinicians and researchers. We have an incredible opportunity to serve and significantly affect the lives of people who stutter across Western North Carolina — in Cullowhee and now in Asheville and the surrounding areas.”

For more information, contact WCU clinic director Tracie Rice at trice@wcu.edu or 828-227-3378.